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EXODUS XXXiii. 18.
And he faid, I befeech thee, fhew me thy glory.
THE greater progrefs any one has made in fcience, the deeper must be his conviction of his own ignorance and imperfection; and the higher our attainments in religion, the ftronger is the impreffion of our infinite distance from God. A little knowledge puffeth up; but modefty and humility are the conftant attendants on profound wisdom. Thoughtless men make light of the name, the houfe, the day of God; but angels cover their faces with their wings," when they approach his awful prefence. Human friendship admits of freedom and familiarity; but while the great Jehovah condefcends to "dwell with man upon earth, even with him who is of a contrite and humble fpirit;" he permits us not to forget, that he is "the high and lofty One, that inhabiteth eternity, whofe name is holy." Are we elevated, as on eagle's wings, up to the eternal throne? It is only that we may feel the hand which fupports our flight, and difcern our own darknefs by that "light which is inacceffible and full of glory." Abraham, the friend of God, in the highest intimacy of that honourable character, lofes not for a moment the fense of his distance and dependence; "Behold now
I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but duft and afhes."* "O let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak but this once." A voice from heaven reaches his ears, faying, "Fear not, Abram : I am thy fhield, and thy exceeding great reward."f And that inftant we behold him proftrate, with his face to the ground. Mofes, the friend of God, to whom Jehovah revealed more of himself than to any other man, is ftill but in the outer court of the habitation where God dwells. What he knows has only created a thirst for knowledge; what he has feen has but infpired an earneft defire of feeing more and more; and after communications fo ample, and communion fo fweet, this is ftill his defire, this his requeft, "Lord, fhew me thy glory."
From the reiterated rebellions and provocations of Ifrael, this good has refulted-New, endearing, encouraging discoveries have been made of the divine nature, perfections and will. Mankind, to the latest generations, have been inftructed to revere that jus tice which will by no means clear the guilty," and to triumph in that mercy which "forgiveth iniquity, tranfgreffion and fin." The revolt of the people cemented and improved the union between God and their leader.
Joshua, the fon of Nun, who was destined to make so distinguished a figure, and to act a part fo confpicuous and important in the history of Ifrael, is reprefented as trained up from his youth in the fervice of Mofes, and in communion with God. We find him in the mount with his mafter when he went to receive the written law, while the multitude below were polluting themfelves with idols. themselves with idols. We find him entering with his mafter into the tabernacle, when it was removed out of the camp, and the glory of the Lord overshadowed it; and there he remained, while Mofes returned to confer with the people. Early habits of acquaintance with God, and employment in his
+ Gen. xv. 1.
*Gen. xviii. 27.
his fervice, are youth's best fecurity and prefervative againft fin, and the furest foundation of honour and ufefulness, of distinction and comfort in advanced age. A man must be formed to command by obeying. "Joshua, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle."* What a fevere reproof of that fpirit of profligacy and diffipation, that criminal love of pleafare and coldnefs to intellectual attainments, that irreligion and profanity which characterize youth in general?
It is pleafing to look forward to this good man's fatter end, and to obferve a career of glory fupported and adorned by piety; a youth of ferioutnefs, fidelity and usefulness, ripening into an advanced life of reputation and usefulnefs; declining into an old age of tranquillity, vigour and joy; and clofing in the wellgrounded hope of immortality. Joshua was trained for the camp, in the tabernacle and on the mount, and was prepared to be the great general and statesman, by learning first to be the humble faint and faithful minifter.
The characters of Mofes and of Jofhua delightfully illustrate and embellish each other. Mofes knew from the beginning that this young man was to be his fucceffor in office; was to finish the work which he had begun; was to have the glory of conquering Canaan, and of establishing Ifrael there, according to the promifes. An ordinary mind would have marked the progrefs of this growing rival with jealoufy; would have attempted to obftruct his advancement; would have repined at the preference given him, to the neglect of his own family. But every felfish, every domestic confideration gives way to the rifing merits of Joshua, and to the choice and appointment of Heaven. was equally natural, on the other hand, for a young man like jofhua, who knew that he was deftined to rule, to furpafs his mafter, to reach the highest fummit of human grandeur; it was natural for fuch an one
* Verfe 11.
to become impatient of authority, to be weary of reftraint, to be eager to bring himfelf forward, and make himself confpicuous: but the fon of Nun difcovers true magnanimity in cheerfully yielding the fubjection becoming an inferior; in obferving Mofes and learning of him; in patiently waiting for the time and manner which Providence fhould choose of exalting him to honour. Mofes treats him, and fpeaks of him, as of a favourite fon, rifing into eminence and diftinction; he behaves to Mofes as to a beloved parent, crowned with years and honour, which he hopes to fee him long enjoy. Thefe are leffons not taught in the school of the world, where natural affection, decency and difcretion are daily facrificed on the altar of pride, felfishness, avarice and ambition.
Mofes has, by importunity, prevailed that the ufual symbol of the divine prefence fhould continue to lead and protect Ifrael, by the way in which they went to the promised land. In anfwer to the prayer of faith it is thus promifed, "My prefence fhall go with thee, and I will give thee reft."* His Spirit is now therefore tranquillized with respect to the people of his charge. God is yet again for them, and who can be against them?" But his perfonal acquaintance with God feems only beginning. As if he had seen nothing of the divine glory in the bush at Horeb, which burned, but was not confumed; as if the awful glories of Sinai had been nothing: as if God had not spoken to him in the tabernacle of the congregation, face to face," as a man to his friend;" he continues to entreat, "Lord, fhew me thy glory!" My friends, if you can reft fatisfied with what you know of God, it is a melancholy proof that you know him not. Eternity is too fhort, the capacity of an angel too limited, "to find out the Almighty unto perfection."
What a field of discovery does the vast frame of NATURE prefent! Suppofing, O man, thy duration fufficiently extended, thy understanding füfficiently en
* Verse 14.
larged, and opportunity afforded thee, equal to thy ut most wish, when couldeft thou have made a complete' furvey of the little globe wherein we dwell; when couldeft thou have explored the innumerable fecret wonders of the hoary deep; when examined the precious contents of the everlafting hills; when difcovered the nature and properties of air and fire? Suppofing the mighty task performed; fuppofing the untried regions of the air, the untrodden paths of the fea, the deep and the high places of the earth rendered acceffible to thy approach, laid fully open to thy viewand lo, the race of knowledge is but beginning. Behold another orb at hand, prefenting a new world of wonders: an orb poffeffing an inconceivably greater extent than our earth, containing an infinitely greater variety of objects, anfwering a much nobler end in the fcale of being; and after that, another; and another ftill, in endlefs fucceffion. Suppofe the whole planetary fyftem, in order, to have paffed under review, the mind refts not there; the wonders of divine power and wisdom end not then; the foul wings its way to other systems, lighted by other funs, and finds itfelf but entering on the glorious career.
Were the whole expanfe of nature explored, the MORAL government of God over all thefe fpheres and all that they contain, expands the fame vaft field afresh to the aftonished eye, and invites to a fecond excurfion. When that is performed, REDEEMING LOVE, ALMIGHTY GRACE display the ample theatre a third time, and lead us by the hand through the "nations of them that are faved," and point out the fucceffive triumphs of fovereign goodness. As if it were poffible to fee an end of all this glorious perfection, fcripture announces the diffolution of all these things, as a fpace too fmall for the foul to expatiate in, as an object too mean for its contemplation; and promises a new and more glorious fyftem of things, fuited to its endless duration and exalted powers, new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteoufnefs."